Barcelona Primavera Sound is a fab festival in a city – and not just any city. Barcelona is home to everything from Gaudi’s architectural delights to stunning beaches to the world’s finest tapas. I usually fly to my favourite Spanish city, but on switching to the train I find it infinitely more relaxing.
As a Londoner, I’m at my seat within an hour of leaving home: there’s even time for glass of champagne at St Pancras. The Eurostar whizzes us over to Paris Gare du Nord, then it’s a short taxi ride over to the Gare du Lyon for the high speed train to Barcelona.
It’s a comfortable experience in any class, with decent leg room, tables and gorgeous views of both countries. It takes a pleasant six and a half hours to arrive at Barcelona Sants Station, easily accessible for the Primavera Sound Festival situated in the Forum district.
Our hotel, the Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona, which opened in 2005, is a large and comfortable luxury hotel that’s perfectly positioned overlooking the festival site. You can see the crowds from our Junior Suite, as well as from the executive lounge and its stunning rooftop location. The hotel has recently opened a new poolside restaurant, Purobeach, where DJs spin chilled tunes: it’s becoming a popular place for trendy locals and is a luxurious spot for festival goers to unwind.
The Forum site was designed as a convention centre, so it’s a good fit for a comfortable festival experience, with outdoor and indoor arenas as well as drinks tents and a covered food court. The first act we catch, Ride, brings out many of the Brits in attendance: Primavera Sound is popular with UK acts and attendees, alongside local music fans and those from as far away as Australia. The age range is mainly 20s-50s, and it’s more music-focused than many a UK festival. There are 49 bands playing over three days, including Patti Smith, Anthony and the Johnsons and Interpol. A total of 77,000 people attend over that time but it’s testament to the layout that it never feels overcrowded. There’s an intimate feel yet it’s easy to find your friends with a spot of planning. It’s also a great site if you’re not blessed with height: several stages have a stepped system where crowds can sit and enjoy the view. And there’s always space to sit and revel in the sunshine during the day, sipping a cocktail while overlooking the water.
One of the most surprisingly civilised experiences is a hypnotic performance from American rockers Swans, who attract a devoted group of fans in an indoor auditorium with tremendous sound. We enjoy catching a host of fun international acts on smaller stages, but the highlight is undoubtedly Underworld on Saturday night. Playing the entire dubnobasswithmyheadman album, the guys give it their all with a stunning show of music and visuals.
On Sunday, it’s time for sightseeing, with a soothing trip to Gaudi’s spectacular cathedral the Sagrada Familia, which gets ever more enchanting with each visit. As we only have one day, we decide to take advantage of the open-top bus to enjoy the exteriors of his many other buildings, as well as a glimpse at the famous football stadium Camp Nou and the delights of Montjuïc.
Then it’s back to the hotel for a delicious dinner at Catalunian restaurant Indigo, a modern eatery with an elegant terrace. What the waiter describes as ‘surf and turf’ is far superior to what a Brit might imagine, and the pig cheeks are a characterful local choice. Wines by the glass are excellent.
Jumping on the train the next morning, we’re sorry to be leaving Barcelona, but at least we can do so slowly, drinking up the view, eating well and reflecting on a wonderful trip. This really is the way to travel.
I want to go to Barcelona Primavera Sound. Where can I find out more?
Full festival tickets to Primavera Sound 2016 start at 125€.
Junior Suites at the Hilton Diagonal Mar start at 276 € per night including access to the Executive Lounge, which provides complimentary breakfast and drinks. Tel: 34-93-507 0080 Email: email@example.com Web: diagonalmarbarcelona.hilton.com
Train fares from London to Barcelona start at £161 standard class return per person. Journey times from London start at 10 hours 16 minutes including the time to change in Paris.
Tel: 0844 848 5 848